Louisiana Agency Prepares Workers for Black Friday with Crowd Management Tips and a “Safety Elf”

As one of the nation’s most popular shopping days approaches, retail workers prepare for a large influx of customers.  In some extreme cases, workers can be exposed to outright violence.  More commonly, it is left to a store’s employees to prepare for and manage incoming crowds.  Without proper preparation, workers can risk injury due to stampeding crowds and spilled products littering floors.  An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide any injured employee through the process of how to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Getting Ready for Black Friday

To prepare Louisiana stores for Black Friday, one state commission has targeted specific stores to provide employees with safety tips.  The Louisiana Workforce Commission’s OSHA Consultation Unit (LWC) has already visited Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Best Buy, and more.  Interestingly, the LWC provided each visited store with “Sam the Safety Elf,” whose motto is “Safety Always Matters,” to increase awareness of safety issues.  The LWC can identify potential workplace hazards and provide incentives for implementing safety programs at no cost to the employers.  The LWC encourages employers to assist qualified employees in reducing their workers’ compensation premiums.

The LWC recommends safety procedures that specifically prepare for retail events such as Black Friday.  Stores should identify and eliminate work-related hazards, and prepare a store’s physical layout for increased crowds by providing rope lines and barricades near registers.  Other stores have implemented security procedures such as buffer zones separating the door from retail lines to prevent stampeding, as well as dress rehearsals to ensure proper procedure.  Some stores have increased hours to dilute the rush of consumers.

According to the LWC, stores should ensure adequate staffing and, if necessary, hire trained security personnel to expedite service and discourage injury.  Security personnel may also be necessary to prevent customers from entry if maximum occupancy restrictions would be violated.  Finally, stores should have a contingency plan in place in case of emergency, and maintain clear lines of communication between all employees to help coordinate customers.

The LWC’s recommendations are based on OSHA’s Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, which recommend, for example, legible and visible crowd control signs, a loudspeaker system for announcements, and spreading out popular items throughout the store.  Employees should be provided with a separate entrance, and door monitors should be assigned to prevent crowd entry.  Designated workers can be assigned to explain crowd management procedures to the incoming consumers.  Employers who fail to comply with OSHA guidelines can expose themselves to increased liability if such a failure results in a workplace injury.

Employees hoping to avoid injury can also take steps to protect themselves.  Wearing shoes with increased traction can help avoid slipping and falling.  Workers can familiarize themselves with their employer’s Black Friday procedure and communications system ahead of time.  Employees can also speak up if an employer fails to implement a necessary safety procedure, and notify security personnel if a dangerous condition or occurrence appears.

What to Do if You Have Been Injured at Work

Even if every attempt is made to avoid injury, workplace injury can still occur.  If you or a loved one has been injured at their place of work, whether on Black Friday or at any other time, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance in assessing your claim and navigating the claims process.

Sending us information about your potential case does not mean we will automatically represent you – you are telling us about your situation in order for us to evaluate whether we believe you have a case which we may choose to handle on your behalf. We will review your circumstances and let you know as soon as possible whether we can discuss your potential case with you further. The information you give us is confidential and can’t be shared with anyone outside of our office.